From our experience, not all 3D printing enthusiasts have the same desire as us to use their printer for useful things, leaving the definition of useful up to you. Our definition of useful are things that create a tangible benefit for people or the planet. Generally we find Pikachus and Millennium Falcons are a bit more prominent on most forums. Us on the other hand, we take a slightly different approach. We are always focused to find ways to use our printers for good. An argument can be made that Pikachus and Millenium Falcons do benefit people through their own pure enjoyment, but we won't dig into that much here. The purpose of this post is to show you some of our favourite prints you can use to grow your own fresh, green, leafy produce at home. Keep in mind we aren't just adding any old planter to this list. The designs have to incorporate some sort of innovation or unique quality which sets it apart from the hundreds of planter designs out there.
1) 3D Ponics
The team from 3D Printler launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to create and design a number of open source hydroponics systems. Their systems use up-cycled pop bottles, 3D printed connectors, and a few other more standard items. Anyone can download all of the .stl files for free, pick up the other needed materials from a garden or hardware store, and follow their detailed instructions to build your own DIY hydroponics system. We have personally built 2 of the 3 systems and absolutely love what they have put together. Huge kudos to these guys!
2) Beer Can Hydroponics
This is a much lesser know design, but we thought it justly deserves a spot on our list for it's very creative way of incorporating something we all have at home, beer cans. The system is the work of Jude Labs who developed a system to integrate beer cans into a mini hydroponics system. Beer, hydroponics, and 3D printing, what isn't to love?
3) Flexible Mini Greenhouse
Bring the benefits of a greenhouse onto your desk thanks to this intricate miniature design by Marcel Bachmann. The design involves quite a few individual 3D printed pieces to put the whole system together, along with a small amount of PVC foil. This system is great if your plants require a higher temperature in order to grow.
4) Self Watering Planter
This is probably one of the most well known and downloaded designs on our list. Designed by Parallel Goods, this little guy lets you take a set-it and forget-it approach to gardening. The planter prints in two parts, a reservoir which can hold 2-3 days worth of water, and a permeable planter pot which allows the water to reach the soil. Just be sure when you print the reservoir to add in plenty of extra perimeter walls to keep it water tight.
5) Grow Grow
This is the smallest of the planters on our list. The tiny tube shaped print takes a minimilist approach to hydroponics. It was designed by Fiilo and simply sits on top of a standard pop bottle with the lower portion of the print reaching down inside to gather water. You won't be able to grow any large plants like tomatoes, but we thought the concept is great.